Friday Links

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I have a Monday book deadline, so must behave and focus on work.

Though I had my own way to respond to the whole river of news fooflah Ralph at There is No Cat had the most important take on this issue: ‘river of news’ a way of focusing attention, not providing the proper solution to the problem of mobile accessibility:

The web has been all aflutter with news of Dave Winer’s latest, greatest invention, the ability to view web sites on mobile devices, which he calls “A River of News”. Neat metaphor, but the approach he takes, which amounts to little more than scraping poorly authored web sites and stripping out most of the crufty presentational HTML, is wrong-headed, a gnarly hack. As Danny Ayers points out in the comments to a post by Doc Searls, there are reams of documentation on best practices for authoring web sites to allow them to display on a wide variety of devices. Winer’s approach removes all branding from the sites in question, something that is absolutely unnecessary to display a site on mobile devices. It also requires visiting a different address than the normal address for a web site, which also harms the brand of the site in question.

One can provide a separate stylesheet for mobile access, which is the appropriate approach and one I need to implement myself.

Still, I like my logo (even if it is a croc and not a gator), I love the color, and I love the Big Dog feed. I plan on maintaining it, and adding to it. Suggestions on who belongs on the YellowGatr Big Dog feedare welcome.

Denise Howell writing for ZD Net is more favorable to the concept of ‘river of news’, but she brings up some issues of copyright, especially when sites republish the entire content. For instance, YellowGatr publishes whatever is published in the feed: summary or full. But then, most Planet-based online aggregators, do. Of course, most Planet-based sites are opt-in, while the feeds on mine are dragged in.

I’ve switched to summary in YellowGatr: Big Dogs, which means if the feed provides a summary, it’s published instead of the full content.

I think Denise’s issue on copyright is interesting and important, and one we’ve discussed in the past as it relates to full feeds. Unfortunately, every time we’ve attempted to have these discussions, the “news must be free” folks come along with cries of “Evil!” and the debate is usually shut down before we start. They’ll be happy to see my Big Dog feed. (Remind me to add BoingBoing to the list).

Where Denise and I differ is she thinks the idea behind ‘rivers of news’ is good, while I find it terribly flawed.

What isn’t flawed is Amazon’s EC2 service, which is a fascinating concept: mobile instances of processing that can be created and placed into a centralized computing cloud. As soon as the program opens up for more programmers, I’m going to give it a try–probably paired with S3 data access. I’m a curious tech, and I like to play with new toys such as this, even if I am somewhat ambivalent about the concept.

Why ambivalent? On the one hand, this is a way to expand one’s processing capability without breaking the bank, which could open the door to some rather innovative efforts. On the other, though, I find all this shifting of hosting process, data, and identity to centralized locations such as Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google to be worrisome. Especially since companies such as these aren’t completely transparent as to their motives for such actions. Most of the services offered are either free, or heavily discounted, so fees from users are not an important component of the business model.

I’m concerned these centralized sites will become the black holes of the internet: sucking in more and more of the web until they may become too critically important for the web to operate without them. I’m also concerned about becoming a rat under observation as I push my bits of data through the Big Tunnel.

Regardless, I’m still going to try out Amazon’s EC2. Street cred, you know.

Speaking of street cred, Ajaxian posted a note about the upcoming Ajax Experience conference. In Boston, of course. Last one was in San Francisco. Of course.

The sessions sound interesting, but I was extremely disappointed to see that of 50 sessions, only 1, one was led by a woman. I had thought, hoped, that perhaps a newer generation of technology would attract a more diversified following and would demonstrate a break from the patterns established in the ‘old’ technologies–especially since I know for a fact that there are women involved in these technologies. This, though, how sad.

Finally, interesting NY Times article on a new Walker Evens show in New York, which also brings in the question of improvising on an original photographer’s work. I’ll have more to say on this, but later, I have to get back to work.

One more.

In addition to feeding my squid addiction, Pharyngula also comes up with some interesting ways of managing comments, including a new 3 comment rule. I agree, and insist that you all write at least three comments to all of my posts.

I must admit, though, I was rather taken with the way of ultimately managing the more obtuse among the threads. Anyone have a whiskey bottle handy?

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